Choice of Clothes

The Bible doesn’t say much about clothes and ways to dress, but what it says presents

sufficient material for intensive discussions.

We think only the more orthodox churches have clothing requirements like hats and skirts, but that isn’t all together true. Just walk into a random church like a Gothic or in a fitted dress on high heals or in ragged jeans and a worn out T-shirt. Or imagine someone dressed like that should step into your church. How would people respond?


  • Woman are not allowed to wear pants (Deuteronomy 22:5)

  • Woman should not wear to much make up and jewellery (1 Timothy 2: 9)

  • Woman should not dress too revealingly and avoid offending (1 Timothy 2: 9)

  • Woman should wear a hat to church (1 Corinth 11:5)

  • You should dress neat and decent when going to church

How you can also look at it:

Why should woman have to wear a skirt and do man not have to attach blue tassels to their jackets?

Two biblical clothing requirements we no longer apply are from Deuteronomy 22: 11 en 12.

Verse 11 says; “Do not wear clothes of wool and linen woven together.”. This follows other commandments about not using things that do not match.

Verse 12 says; “Make tassels on the four corners of the cloak you wear”. The deeper meaning of this is to be found in Numbers 15:38-41; “make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the Lord, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by chasing after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. Then you will remember to obey all my commands and will be consecrated to your God”.

This to me seems an extremely useful advice. A ‘What Would Jesus Do’-wristband avant la lettre.

When man wear such a tassel, woman can wear what they want.

Let’s look at the advice of Paul to Timothy about female clothing stiles. Timothy is send to the Ephesians to bring order to the situation. “The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5). It all had become outward appearance over there. In that context Paul says to Timothy; “I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes” (1 Timothy 2: 9).

Dress for success also wasn’t an unknown phenomena in biblical times, but not meant to be applied in church. We shouldn’t want to distinguish ourselves by our clothes, but also not distinguish others based on their clothes. It is an automatic reaction to look at someone who is dressed well in expensive clothes. That is a sign of success and we love to be in the neighbourhood of successful people. Shabby clothing, ill fitted or dirty we interpret as failure and we don’t like failure very much. We accept them, tolerate them and reach out to them, but still look down on them a little. “You can sit over there”, we tell them. And to the well dressed ones we say: “please, come sit over here”.

Judging people based on their appearance is an offence of the commandment to love your neighbour as yourself, James says (2: 1-9). This also goes for showing you are better than the other by means of your clothing.

So let’s not judge people wearing a hat to church or not, wear a skirt or not, wear expensive clothing and jewellery or not or have a certain way of clothing. Let’s love everyone as ourselves.